Effective March 9, NOAA Fisheries issued a final rule implementing a new process to set recreational management measures (bag, size, and season limits) for summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, and bluefish as recommended by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission). The approved changes also include modifications to the recreational accountability measures.
According to NOAA Fisheries, the new approach is part of a broader long-term effort by both the Council and Commission to improve recreational management of these four species. The new management program aims to provide greater stability and predictability in recreational measures from year-to-year while accounting for scientific variability in stock assessment and management data, including recreational data.
The new process allows managers to consider two factors: 1) biomass compared to the target, and 2) estimated recent recreational harvest compared to future harvest limits, to determine if management measures need to change and, if so, by how much.
Capt. Adam Nowalsky who represents New Jersey at both the Council and the Commission called the new approach “a major step forward in recreational management that better accounts for recreational catch variability and considers stock status,” while adding “The draconian measures contemplated for 2023 in some states for black sea bass demonstrates that a reset of measures is still needed to correct the outcome of the previous process for setting recreational measures.”
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